Nintendo Switch Specifications Leaked
Nintendo Switch Specifications revealed
Note: This article was first published on 22nd December 2016.
The technical specifications for the upcoming Nintendo Switch's processor and graphics unit have been leaked, it seems. In a Digital Foundry report, the site examines how each of the two components will function in the console’s handheld and docked modes.
Indeed, as many have assumed from watching the console announcement trailer and Jimmy Fallon's live demonstration, the Switch will feature two performance configurations. When in a docked configuration, the Switch will run at full capacity, as expected. However, the dock itself doesn't offer another GPU, CPU, or extra power in general. It merely serves as a means for the console to have sustained power input and allows for higher clock speeds than what's possible on the go. This is presumably meant to conserve the console (or rather, a handheld, when detached from the dock) battery life.
On the CPU end, the Switch's cores will operate at 1,020MHz regardless. The memory controller and GPU, will however, change depending on whether the console is docked or un-tethered from it. The report claims that memory speed will drop from 1,600MHz to 1,331MHz. Interestingly, developers will have the freedom to lock the full memory bandwidth for their games if they choose to.
The GPU in particular gets the highest boost, allowing the docked configuration to reach 768MHz, compared to a meager 307.2MHz when in handheld mode. Curiously, and this is where it becomes puzzling; Nintendo seems to have underclocked the Tegra X1 GPU even in the docked mode, as compared to what the Tegra X1 can allow for. NVIDIA's Shield, Digital Foundry noted, uses the same Tegra X1 chip but runs its GPU at 1GHz.
Our assumption is that Nintendo wants to hit the 307.2MHz as the sweet spot to maintain battery life and power balance, and the performance drop between that speed and 1GHz is untenable. The low speeds (a substantial 40 percent) of the portable configuration brings up some interesting questions too. For instance, how will switching from console to portable mode affect a Switch game remains to be seen - will the game's visual quality be pared down on the fly, will frame rates be sacrificed?
And yes, these specifications are pretty much final, if the findings by Digital Foundry are true (and they usually are).